BWL's column this week focuses on all the good things that are happening in the cycling and walking world in SWFL. Time to get out there and enjoy these new facilities, with more coming soon.
•A lot of new facilities countywide, more on the drawing board and so many communities looking to enhance bike/ped in their neighborhoods that the backlog in requests is growing dauntingly large.
•Cape Coral’s new 90 miles of interconnected bike routes with distinctive signage, informational maps and kiosks highlighting the landmarks and activities you can discover on your ride — a sign of what dedicated citizens and a willing government can accomplish together.
•Sanibel… with its new Pond Apple Park/Shipley Trail path adding to more than 25 miles of shared-use paths and 8 miles of natural-surface paths, further burnishing its Bike Friendly Community status. Two new path extensions are in the works thanks to recently received grants — one to Bowman’s Beach and another to connect the exit of “Ding” Darling to the existing path system.
•The federal TIGER grant that’s going to fill in some major gaps in existing bike/ped facilities. Construction of these new biking and walking facilities will begin this summer and continue through 2016 along sections of Colonial Boulevard., Daniels Parkway, Six Mile Cypress, San Carlos Park and Florida Gulf Coast University, so stay tuned.
•Bonita Springs is likewise embracing bike/ped friendliness, with its Complete Streets policy, joining the nationwide Mayors’ Challenge to help make roads more pedestrian and bike friendly (with Cape Coral and Fort Myers), and designing the downtown Bonita improvements project to be bicycle and pedestrian friendly.
•Bike/ped improvements are a focus of the major Estero Boulevard. improvement project getting underway on Fort Myers Beach, a long-term project that will mean a lot for a very popular, family-friendly tourist destination.
•Florida Dept. of Transportation (FDOT) and the city of Fort Myers are coordinating efforts to maximize the long-term benefits of an FDOT Pedestrian Safety grant by packaging it with the redesign and enhancement of the entire U.S. 41 corridor from Winkler Ave to Victoria.
•The continued strong leadership of the countywide regional transportation planning body, called the Metropolitan Planning Organization, by inclusion of bike/ped friendly policies and projects in its transportation plans and funding priorities, among its many efforts.
•More people biking and walking every year. This season saw more people on the paths and lanes — a trend we hope will continue as a transportation alternative, to support healthy lifestyles and with the continued growth of bike tourism (a concept our local tourist pros have solidly embraced, to their credit).
•A network of local groups to support biking, running and walking at almost any level you’d need… Caloosa Riders, Sanibel Bicycle Club, SWFL Critical Mass, Fort Myers Track Club, the Speedsters, the Striders, 3D Running Club, Southwest Florida Walking Meetup Group, Southwest Florida Biking Meetup Group and more — and that’s just (sort of) looking at Lee County.
•The state’s growing commitment to Complete Streets, with forceful advocates on the regional and state level and a new policy to guide it in the future, thanks to FDOT leadership.
Even the “bad” news is good news… more attention to bike injuries and fatalities and more coverage of bike/ped issues translates to more awareness and more action, both by the public and elected officials.
Head to the beach on May 9 for the 10th annual Turtle Trot 5K at Lovers Key State Park, to support The Friends of Lovers Key Inc. A unique trail course takes runners through a shady maritime hammock ecosystem on a hard-packed shell path; no part of the course requires running through beach sand. The course ends at a pavilion overlooking the beach where refreshments will be served and awards will be presented. Check out www.ftmyerstrackclub.com for details.
BikeWalkLee is a community coalition raising public awareness and advocating for complete streets in Lee County—streets that are designed, built, operated and maintained for safe and convenient travel for all users: pedestrians, bicyclists, motorists, and transit riders of all ages and abilities. Information, statistics and background online at www.BikeWalkLee.org.
•May 9: 10th annual Turtle Trot 5K at Lovers Key, to support The Friends of Lovers Key Inc. Trail course on shell paths (no sand). Registration 7 a.m. (www.fortmyerstrackclub.com)
•May 16: Cape Cops 5K, Cape Coral Yacht Club. Run, walk and kids’ fun run, starts at 7:30 a.m. (www.fortmyerstrackclub.com)
•May 23: Mosquito 10K / Run-4-Others 5K, Edgewater United Methodist Church, 19190 Cochran Blvd Port Charlotte. Proceeds benefit “Imagine No Malaria.” (www.active.com)
•June 20: Sugden Stride 5K, the first event in the Elite Events Summer 5K Series. Sugden Regional Park, Naples. (www.eliteevents.com)
Cycling and other events:
•May 1: SWFL Critical Mass ride. Join our May Day family fun slow ride through Fort Myers. Front and rear bike lights required. Grab your helmet, bring all your friends and meet in the open field next to Publix at First Street Village, 2160 McGregor Blvd. Fort Myers. (www.SWFLCM.com)
•May 20: Ride of Silence, to honor cyclists killed or injured while cycling on public roadways. Leaves at 7 p.m. from Centennial Park, 2000 West First Street, Fort Myers. Riders are requested to wear black arm bands, or red if they have personally been injured in a cycling vs. motor vehicle accident. Free, no registration necessary. Also the Sanibel Bicycle Club, in collaboration with Billy’s Bikes and Matzaluna Restaurant, has organized a ride from Sanibel, leaving from the Matzaluna Restaurant (1200 Periwinkle Way) over the Causeway bridges and back. Arrive at 6:15 for a pre-event, with ride starting at 7 p.m. Both are free, no registration necessary.
•June 5: SWFL Critical Mass ride. Join a family fun slow ride through Fort Myers. Front and rear bike lights required. Grab your helmet, bring all your friends and meet in the open field next to Publix at First Street Village, 2160 McGregor Blvd. Fort Myers. (www.SWFLCM.com)
•July 12: Wheels and Wings VI, Beef O’Bradys, 1105 Taylor Road Punta Gorda. Five different rides: 15 mile (Mystery Ride) 32-/50-/62-miles and a 40-mile Gravel Grinder. Food, fun and more. (www.active.com)
•May 1: Online registration opens for the 2015 Galloway Captiva Tri, a unique sprint-length event held Sept. 12-13 (kid-friendly tris Saturday, adults Sunday) on Captiva Island. Go to www.captivatri.org or www.active.com to register, with proceeds to benefit Community Cooperative.
•May 3: Lake Avalon reverse triathlon & duathlon, Sugden Regional Park, Naples. Details at trifind.com
•May 9: Cape Coral sprint triathlon, Cape Coral Yacht Club. Details at trifind.com.
•June 7: Naples Fitness Challenge Triathlon, Naples Beach Hotel and Golf Club. (www.thefitnesschallengetriathlon.com)
•July 12: American Sprint Triathlon & Duathlon (run/bike/run), Sugden Regional Park, 4284 Avalon Drive, Naples. (www.active.com)
•July 18: Englewood YMCA Sprint Triathlon